Kate McCabe / Gavel Media

Japanese Airline App Helps You Avoid Screaming Babies

Imagine this: you're confined to a small space with minimal legroom for what seems to be an eternity in the sky, and suddenly a baby starts screaming across the aisle. This scenario is many travelers' worst nightmare.

Japan Airlines (JAL) understands the struggle of frequent flyers. The airline recently rolled out a new system of seating arrangements which allows customers to fly without the fear of crying babies. In this new system, an icon of a baby appears wherever one’s parent bought a seat, allowing passengers to plan accordingly. Whether that means choosing a different seat or hunkering down with some noise-canceling headphones is up to you. The New York Times can give you all the specifics.

Doesn’t this sound great? While getting away from babies is good and well, this begs the question: do we really need this? This newest gizmo again brings up the idea that the world relies too heavily on apps for day to day life. It may seem harmless to not want to sit next to a child on a plane, but what happens when companies realize they make a better profit by allowing for a clearer selection of seat neighbors? One second flyers refuse to sit next to children, the next they demand to be seated next to someone who doesn’t snore or someone who is in peak health.

Future apps may lead to all passengers making a profile of their exact flying style. How much they snore, eat, talk, and whatever else may annoy someone. Passengers may ultimately end up relying on a system like this one in the future. It calls into question whether or not a new generation of flyers will be able to handle uncertainty in commercial flights. Beyond flying, this type of convenience tool can spread out to other markets, like many apps already have.

On a wider scale, convenience technology already claims control over the day-to-day lives of people everywhere. Google Maps, Waze, and other navigation apps tell drivers where to go and when they will arrive. The useful skills of planning ahead, getting directions, and memorizing them all pale in comparison to GPS navigation. Can we no longer function without them?

The power of the internet is overwhelming; any question is answered in seconds, all without moving a muscle. Speaking of moving muscles (or lack thereof), self-driving cars are on pace to one day overthrow the manual drivers of today’s roads. 

Now the question remains, are these apps an overall negative aspect to citizens in the long run? Should countries and companies be wary of their smart apps and fear the possibility of making more and more things obsolete? It depends on who you ask. Some likely will say that apps today take away from the necessary skills that people should have. Everyone should know how to get to the store without their phone or know how to research without the internet. Others, however, would argue the opposite. After weighing the apps’ advantages, it is hard to see how anyone could turn them away in favor of the “old-fashioned way” of living. 

Back to the plane. Is this move from the JAL a bad one? No. Should society worry about relying too heavily on technology? Only time will tell. As a global community, apps and convenience technology already run day-to-day society. Going against such innovation makes little sense, as whatever works better will inevitably take precedence. Choosing seats based on their proximity to toddlers seems petty, yet ingenious. Such a system shows a continuing trend: we as a society prioritize comfort and convenience. Even if it means relying a little bit more on technology, people will always go for the more comfortable option. While some may argue against this move from JAL, it seems like an inevitable step in bringing airlines more into the fold of our lazy and over-reliant culture.

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